one good thing about music is when it hits, you feel no pain (june 2010)

Posted: July 21, 2010 in GOOD READS, MUSIKA
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So, hit me with music. Brutalize me with music.

Apart from being a slut for music, I always was the novelty kinda gal. So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that I happen to still linger on the magic of a mixtape. You think it’s pointless, a waste of time, ancient school (the kinda old skool that ain’t cool) – Pssh. I’m a dork. And in my own little uncool world, the mixtape is still the ultimate love letter.

Before you start shaking your heads and muttering “you hippie” under your oh-so modernized breaths, here’s a newsflash: WE ALL STILL MAKE THEM. Yes, you. An iTunes playlist may not require the same blood, sweat, and tears that went into making a C90 or C120 mix, but the intent is still the same – expressing emotion through song.

I remember the first and only mixtape that I made way back when I was in 6th grade. Grunge was making headway in the music scene and a number of local bands are starting to get their 15 minutes in the spotlight. I was barely 12 and I remember being so psyched at the idea of making a nice mix of both big label bands and little local bands. I didn’t have any blank tapes on hand, so I settled for a crappy quality recycled tape I’d gotten from school, ripped off the labels, and cut out my own cassette frame from some blurry photos I found. It was an impressionistic tangle of trees in psychedelic colors, it was almost crying out for me to name the mix “A Walk Through A Sonic Forest”, in reference to the author E.E. Cummings. Don’t ask. I was a weird yet happy kid. Still am.

I knew then that this was the beginning of something momentous, so I taped an extra copy to seal the preservation of said playlist. (Interesting how in the age of CD burning, everyone is able to retain whatever playlist they’ve made up for someone else… Think of all the great playlists we made back in the real mixtape days that are now lost to us!). The great thing about the time constraint was that I had no time to actually produce an organized flow to the mix; it was spontaneous, candid, HONEST. The tape was purely about the music.

So… without further blabber, here’s the tracklist of my one and only mixtape to myself, from myself:

Side A
1. Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
2. Would – Alice in Chains
3. Dookie – Greenday
4. New Year’s Day – U2
5. Kyrie – Glasshouse
6. In Bloom – Nirvana
7. Space Boy – The Smashing Pumpkins
8. Queer – Garbage
9. Darkness Fell – Wolfgang
10. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
11. Bring Me Down – Rivermaya
12. Live Forever – Oasis

Side B
1. Release – Pearl Jam
2. Amazing – Aerosmith
3. Little Bones – The Tragically Hip
4. No Rain – Blind Melon
5. Swimming In Your Ocean – Crash Test Dummies
6. Free To Decide – The Cranberries
7. Freedom – Rage Against The Machine
8. Rock Star – Hole
9. Tomorrow – Silverchair
10. I Can’t Face The World – The Lemon Trees


Fast forward. I was 17 and somehow convinced myself that I was in love. I even had a full handwritten tracklisting (with annotations and important lyrics) to go with the mix tape I was supposed to woo my first “proper” boyfriend with. Sadly, it never came into fruition – both the mix and the relationship – and I only managed to salvage page one of what must have been two. So, verbatim:

Cigarettes and Coffee -Otis Redding. Because I love the idea of being so content with someone that I don’t need anything else “I don’t want no cream or sugar, cause I’ve got you.”
The Calendar Hung Itself -Brighteyes. You might hate Brighteyes if you haven’t heard them before. They are a band of attrition who takes some listening to. But I love this song for its intensity (and bons points for wokring in ‘you are my sunshine’ in an un-trite manner) “does he know that place behind your neck that’s your favorite to be touched?”
You -Radiohead. I first heard this on some bizarre Japanese import but it completely explains the ridiculous unrequited thing that I have down so perfectly. “you… are… the sun and moon and stars”
Teenage Kicks -The Undertones. Who doesn’t love them? “I’ll have her over cos I’m all alone”
Sex and Candy -Marcy Playground. Self obsession, caffeine and a brilliant bass, I just can’t fault it. “I’ve had too much caffeine and I’m thinking about myself”
Pale Blue Eyes -The Velvet Underground. Mainly because it’s so chill… Reminds me of that lazy, all-the-time-in-the -world, lying-in-bed-with-somebody

nice feeling. “it was so good what we did yesterday, and I’d do it [a hundred times] again”
Bright and Yellow -Gin Blossoms
You Go To My Head -Billie Holiday. I adore Billie Holiday even though all her songs are so sad.. “I find you spinning round in my brain..”
Brown Eyed Girl -Van Morrison. I love this because it is so filled with private references but you still get so involved.
In Love With The World [I can’t remember who this is by]

When a relationship ends, it always seems like such a tragedy that it didn’t last forever. In hindsight, however, I see that crazy intense first loves really can’t. But this tape serves as a document of that amazing openness and exuberance of time. It reminds me of how the past begets the present – first love as the beginning of self-discovery.


Why that second attempt failed to materialize is now beyond me. But for all my self-absorbed “Holden Caulfield” ridiculousness, I always knew I have what it takes to make the sickest mixes. Making playlists on my iTunes may not be nearly as sexy as spending hours and hours with your cassette and CD library in front of you trying to find that perfect next song, but the practice still serves a purpose. And as long as there are slightly neurotic pop culture dorks in this world like yours truly, the mixtape will never die.

To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention, and then you’ve got to up it a notch or cool it a notch and you can’t have white music and black music together unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and…oh, there are loads of rules. Anyway… I’ve started to make a tape… in my head… for Laura. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done. -Rob Gordon (High Fidelity)


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